Fish-Fur-Feathers-FARMS

FARMS Leadership | North State | Thursday, January 13, 2022

Location of Field Day
Gorrill Ranch, Durham, CA & Larrabee Farms, Chico, CA

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors

  • Anjanette Shadley: Assistant General Manager, Western Canal Water District
  • Doyle Carter: Operations Manager, Richvale Irrigation District
  • Donnie Stinnett: Manager, Joint Union Water Districts Board
  • Brita Lundberg: Marketing Coordinator, Lundberg Family Farms
  • Eric Larrabee: Owner, Larrabee Farms
  • Lee Heringer: PCA, M&T Ranch
  • Nicole Landon: Owner, Buzz’s Bees

Theme
Natural Resources

Summary of the Day 

Students from Las Plumas and Chico High School attended the North State FARMS Leadership Field Day hosted by Western Canal Water District on Thursday January 13th. We met at Gorrill Ranch in Durham where we were greeted by Anjanette Shadley the Assistant General Manager at Western Canal Water District. She gave the students a brief introduction into the day and introduced our guest speakers Doyle Carter the Operations Manager at Richvale Irrigation District and Donnie Stinnett the Manager of Joint Water Districts Board. These men shared with the students about their education, career pathways as well as what each did at their respective water districts. It was fascinating to hear about the amount of technology that is used currently to be able to accurately monitor the amount of water that is being used as well as where it is going was very eye opening to the students. Listening to them speak it was very apparent that they both absolutely loved their jobs and were highly recommending to the students to follow their dreams and really find a passion in their future careers.  We then had the honor of hearing from Brita Lundberg who is the Marketing Coordinator at Lundberg Family Farms. Her story was very unique and important for the students to hear because while she came from an “AG Family” who had a successful farming operation, her love and passion was for reading and literacy. It wasn’t until she graduated from college and lived in New York for several years before she realized that her passion, and love for storytelling and writing could be a big asset to her family farm. She shared about applying for a job at her family’s company at the time when they were rebranding. She was hired and is very happy to be able to help tell their family story to each and every consumer.

The second half of the day was focused on learning about the importance of managing water for the multiple beneficial uses of Food, Salmon, Communities, and Birds. We watched an educational video called Sharing Butte Creek that explained how the irrigation districts, rice farmers, and conservationists have all began working together to promote the health and growth of the salmon as well as giving the migratory waterfowl a place to rest and feed all while improving the soil health in rice fields. We had to opportunity to visit Larrabee Farms and hear from Eric Larrabee about his journey to coming back to the family farm as well as getting a first hand look at his rice fields during this time of year. Lee Heringer who is the PCA at M&T Ranch spoke to the students about his career as a PCA and what led him to choose this. The day was wrapped up sitting and listening to Nicole Landon the owner of Buzz’s Bees share about her and her husbands journey to becoming full time bee keepers and what exactly goes into raising Queen Bee’s. All in all the day was cram packed with exciting speakers who were a wealth of information as well as inspiring! We can’t thank all those who participated enough!

FARMS Leadership Program | Kern County | Tuesday, October 19th

Field Day Partner:

AC Foods/Columbine Vineyards

Field Day Host
Louis Gonzalez-Director of Farming

Dave Watson-VP of Sales

John Carter-Director of Operations

Vincent Sorena-VP of Compliance

Dan Rosas-Quality Assurance Manager

Summary of the Day: On Tuesday, October 19th, 2021, the Kern County FARMS Leadership Program kicked off the year with a field day at AC Foods/Columbine Vineyards. Students from McFarland High School, West High School and Ridgeview Highschool came together to explore the different job opportunities that consists of managing a grape operation. We started off with Louis Gonzalez the Director of Farming as he went over many exciting things that we all learned about. We went into detail about the fertilizer that is used on the grapes and all the ingredients that are in it to make it so valuable. We got to see up close and touch the different additives to fertilizer that are used such as earth worm poop. They use an Aerobic Tea that blends all the ingredients of the fertilizer together with water and it is then pumped into the lines of the vineyards.

We then went over to the Sales Team of Columbine Vineyards and got to sit in and meet the VP of sales Dave Watson. They began to start and show us the pitch they would give to future buyers and anyone interested in their grapes. It was very interesting to see all the different data and reports they do to figure out what the consumers like best about picking the perfect bag of grapes. They have to be sure the label is perfect and placed in the correct spot as well. Presentation is everything!

We then went on to the vineyards and got to actually cut and pick our own bundle of grapes. They went on to show and tell us the specific characteristics the grape bundles must reach to be sale ready. We had to cut and trim to make the bundles uniform and eye appealing to the consumer. We also used a refractometer to practice measuring the sweetness in the grapes. We all had a great time and got to taste some AMAZING grapes!!!

Ecological Agriculture

FARMS Leadership | Sacramento Valley | November 30, 2021

Location of Field Day:
Center for Land-Based Learning – Woodland, CA

Field Day Host and Mentors:
Center for Land-Based Learning – Alex Lintner & Ric Murphy
Yolo Resource Conservation District – Amy Williams
Picnic Table Farms – Paul Boulware

Theme:
Ecological Agriculture

River City High School joined us for our November FARMS Leadership field day all about Ecological Agriculture: the essential practice of aligning agriculture with ecological principles that support the health of the surrounding wildlife, land and humans. Students spent the day at our Center for Land-Based Learning Headquarters learning about Ecological Ag from two central perspectives: 1) folks at the Yolo Resource Conservation District who work to improve and sustain Yolo County’s natural resources and land and 2) the founder of Picnic Table Farms who works to grow produce galore on Yolo County’s land.

We began our day focusing on connecting with one another and understanding the importance of leadership. After checking in and learning a bit more about each other during our Opening Circle, we introduced River City to field day Student Leadership Roles: roles that give students the opportunity to guide and teach their peers about issues related to the central FARMS Leadership Pillars, while practicing their research, public speaking, self-reflection, and communication skills. 

After a quick tour of CLBL’s farm facilities, we ventured out to meet Amy Williams and her RCD crew who came armed with 70 native trees, shrubs and plants ready to go in the ground. In recent months, CLBL has partnered with Yolo RCD to install three massive hedgerows around CLBL farm land, in an effort to provide habitat for wildlife and pollinators, improve the land’s soil health, and sequester carbon. Amy, the Project Manager, and CLBL’s GrizzlyCorps Member and soil expert Alex Litner, helped to educate our students not only on all the benefits hedgerows provide for land and wildlife, but also for our farmers: providing increased pollinators crop production, fixing nitrogen into the farm’s soil, providing wind buffers to prevent soil erosion, and reducing pest populations. Talk about a symbiotic relationship!

After Amy’s planting demonstration, students got their hands dirty planting Yarrow, Showy Milkweed, Valley Oak, and Pacific Aster among 16 other types of native California plants. Within just over an hour, students had planted 50 plants!

After a break for lunch during which our student Nutrition Educators researched and presented the nutrition benefits of the strawberries and kale we were munching on, we went to meet some farmers. Ric Murphy, CLBL’s Incubator Farm Program Manager, gave students the low-down on the program’s mission to provide beginner farmers with land, infrastructure and ongoing training. After encouraging students to consider the perks of a career in farming, Ric introduced us to Paul Boulware, a participant in the Incubator Farmer Program and the founder of Picnic Table Farms. 

We spent the remainder of our afternoon with Farmer Paul. He toured us through his colorful half acre plot stacked with massive carrots, pink celery, deep green and purple salad mixes, and salad turnips. As students taste-tested his veggies, Paul shared his sustainable growing practices with us along the way: everything hand grown with no machine use, no-till farming, natural pest management, and keeping roots in the soil as long as possible for turning a bed to plant the next crop. Students were amazed by the amount and the beauty that all Paul has been able to produce while maintaining balance with his ecological surroundings. 

After Paul sent students off with a butternut squash each and a container of salad turnip seeds for their school’s garden, we ended the day with our Closing Circle. While students around the circle shared lots of learning highlights from the day, the common theme seemed to be the land. Everyone shared an appreciation for the new ways they learned to care for the land and its vast resources that support us, whether it be from the farmer’s or the conservationist’s perspective.